1. 49 stranded migrants are finally brought to shore after 19 days
After 19 days at sea, the 49 migrants rescued by the Sea Eye and the Sea Watch 3 were finally allowed to land in Malta.
The Waldensian Church helped bring an end to the standoff that lasted over two weeks, by offering to take in the migrants in its facilities after they were rescued by the German ship and assigned to Italy, according to the distribution rules set by European authorities.
Less than a dozen migrants will be taken in by the Waldensian Church “at no expense to the government”: spokesperson Loretta Malan explained to TPI how the agreement was reached, urging other churches to contribute to the effort, and concluded by saying:
“This is our job, and being a church means that we put the people first. We will keep helping in situations like this every time we can.
2. The ship Open Arms is blocked in Barcelona
The rescue vessel Open Arms has been held in the port of Barcelona, after being denied permission to sail on a new mission in the Central Mediterranean.
As La Repubblica reported, on December 28, the Open Arms landed in Algeciras with 311 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya after Italy and Malta denied permission to dock. After resupplying, the ship was due to sail on January 8, but the maritime authority refused it, saying that the ship does not follow numerous international laws for sea rescue.
According to the Associated Press, the ship had violated maritime regulations to leave those rescued at sea at the nearest port: this happened on the boat’s most recent mission in December, when some 300 migrants saved near Libya were taken to Spain.
According to a more technical report in El Pais, the ship was not authorised to engage in “rescue operations at sea involving transport by sea of large numbers of people for a period of time longer than a week”. By doing so, the ship had jeopardised “the security of the boat, its crew and the people rescued.”
Proactiva Open Arms called it a pretext, saying that no vessel under the Spanish Flag meets these requirements.
El Capitán Marítimo de Barcelona nos ha denegado el permiso para zarpar a la zona SAR.
Impedirnos salvar vidas es
irresponsable y cruel.
Políticos cobardes ponen en marcha el contador de muertos pic.twitter.com/BvIJdGoq6r
— Oscar Camps (@campsoscar) January 14, 2019
3. Deaths at sea and boat arrivals: fact-checking vs Salvini
On the Italian TV show Porta a Porta, interior minister Salvini boasted about the results of his migration policies by showing figures on sea arrivals, migrant reception and deaths at sea.
His numbers have been disputed after fact checking: Pagella Politica pointed out that according to the Ministry, the number of arrivals on Italian shores dropped from 119,369 two years ago to 23,370 in 2018.
The figures diverge over deaths at sea. According to the minister, there were 210 deaths at sea in 2017 and 23 in 2018. These numbers are in stark contrast with those released by the UNHCR: 2.837 migrants died in 2017 in the Mediterranean, compared to 1,311 in 2018.
Furthermore, since Salvini became minister, 9 migrants have died for every 100 who arrived in Italy. A year ago, the number was less than 2 every 100.
Deaths at sea, however, are not limited to the Mediterranean: according to a IOM report, over 30,000 migrants died during irregular migration between 2014 and 2018.
4. Who are Italian ports closed to?
During the standoff with the Sea Watch and Sea Eye, the Italian ports have remained closed and the incident was resolved only after other European countries were involved. But is it really so?
According to Vittorio Alessandro, former rear admiral of the Italian Coast Guard, “There is no decree saying that the ports are closed. There are only Twitter posts trying to dictate the behaviour of commanders, judges and mayors. Everything exists on social networks only.”
As Annalisa Camilli wrote in Internazionale, Carla Roncallo – head of the Maritime Authority in Eastern Ligurian Sea – had voiced similar doubts: “We are not aware of any order to close the ports having been issued. Any vessel can ask for permission to dock.”
From December 22 to January 7 – during the Sea Watch case – 165 migrants arrived in Italy by sea. In Torre Melissa, a coastal town in Calabria, residents and tourists helped save the lives of 51 shipwrecked migrants.
5. A new report sheds more light on horrors in Libya
Expected to be acquired by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the latest UN report on violence against migrants in Libya mentions: “deprivation of liberty and arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, kidnapping, extortion, forced labour and unlawful killings.” Who is responsible? According to the UN Secretary, it is “state officials, armed groups, smugglers, traffickers and criminal gangs.” And Italy is handing migrants over to them.
6. A foundation to bring new life to Riace
A new foundation to promote the “Riace model” with no government funding, called “È stato il vento” was unveiled in the presence of Riace mayor Mimmo Lucano in Caulonia.
Details of the project were illustrated by attorney Gianfranco Schiavone (president of the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration), Judge Emilio Sirianni of Magistratura democratica and Recosol coordinator, Chiara Sasso, who said: “The foundation will support all the activities and give new impulse to them. Let’s do something so that Riace can be what it was”.
7. Snow on Lebanese refugee camps becomes fake news in Italy
Lebanon is grappling with the damage caused by storm Norma, with heavy rains, snowfalls and freezing temperatures. The hardest hit were the 11,000 Syrian refugees who are living in desperate conditions in northern and northeastern camps. 150 settlements were affected, with thousands of refugees hit by extreme conditions, and an 8-year-old girl died.
Meanwhile, a photo of the snow-covered Arsal camp went viral on Italian social networks. Passed off as a photograph of the Italian town of Amatrice, which was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2016, it was used to spread messages against the migrants of the Sea Watch. Valigia blu has debunked the fake news.
8. Greece: A tale of two migration stories
Greece was at the epicentre of both the Eurozone and migration crises. How did it face them, and how are they overlapping?
Gemma Bird and Amanda Russell Beattie, researchers at the London School of Economics, wrote about the Greece case: a country that is attracting investors (by offering citizenship) even as 16,000 migrants are stranded on its islands.
9. Among the 40,000 Venezuelan migrants who reached Trinidad and Tobago
To date, At least 40,000 have fled to the island that lies just 11 kilometers from the coast of their home country. Often with expired passports or no documents at all, many cross the border unofficial routes, usually on fishing boats.
With 3 million Venezuelan displaced by the crisis, situations like the one in Trinidad are becoming increasingly common in other Caribbean countries. As Aviva Shwayder wrote in Refugees Deeply, these countries cannot ignore their responsibility to respond to the crisis on their doorsteps.
10. Irregular migrants and their health
The myth of the foreigner as a bringer of disease remains a difficult one to eradicate. NAGA has recently published a new report on the health of irregular migrants in Lombardy. What are their health conditions, and how serious is the threat of contagion? There is no such threat, in fact. Overall, the report found that infectious diseases were extremely rare: only 29 cases on a total 2,000 migrants.
Foto di copertina via Pro Activa Open Arms